19 October 2018
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PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

08.07.2017

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s answers to Russian media questions following President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, Hamburg, July 7, 2017

Question: Mr Lavrov, how did this long meeting go?

Sergey Lavrov: If the presidents see that they have issues to discuss and to solve something rather than just exchange opinions, I don’t think that time is of paramount importance. Indeed, they had a very long conversation. My feeling was confirmed that President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and President of the United States Donald Trump are driven by the national interests of their countries and pursue them primarily by seeking to achieve mutually beneficial agreements rather than trying to act out confrontational scenarios and invent problems out of the blue. It was in this concrete and business-like vein that Syria, Ukraine, the Korean Peninsula, cyber security and a number of other issues were discussed.

Agreements were reached on some quite concrete things.

First, literally today, Russian, US and Jordanian experts finished work in Jordan’s capital Amman and agreed on a memorandum on de-escalation zones in the south-west of Syria – in Daraa, Quneitra and Souweida. The ceasefire in this zone will come in effect on July 9 at 12 pm Damascus time.

Russia and the United States have undertaken commitments to ensure the ceasefire regime by all the groups present there and also to provide humanitarian access and establish contacts between the opposition in that region and the Monitoring Centre being set up in the capital of Jordan. In the beginning, security around this de-escalation zone will be provided by Russian military police in coordination with Americans and Jordanians. It is crucial that the document clearly confirms the commitment of Russia, Jordan and the United States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and the UN Security Council resolutions which laid the foundation for promoting a political settlement. This is the agreement that both the presidents welcomed today.

Second. While discussing Ukraine, the US side reported that they had appointed a special envoy to assist in settling the Ukrainian crisis. It was agreed to set up a channel between Russian and US officials so as to use US capabilities for promoting a settlement on the basis of the Minsk agreements and relying on the groundwork laid by the Contact Group and in the Normandy format. We expect that the US envoy on the Ukrainian settlement will arrive shortly in Russia for consultations.

The third issue is cyber security which was understandably given considerable attention. The presidents agreed that this area is becoming ever more dangerous. There are numerous threats emerging in cyber space, including a terrorist threat, threats in other areas of organised crime, such threats to the normal functioning of societies as child pornography, pedophilia, the so-called suicide networks. Of course, President Trump also mentioned that certain circles in the United States keep on spinning the issue of Russia’s interference in the US elections even though they are unable to prove that. 

All these issued combined, including fight against terrorism, organised crime, hacking in all its forms, were agreed as subjects of Russian-US interaction. A bilateral working group will be set up for that purpose.

The fourth agreement envisions shorter procedures for appointing new ambassadors, the Russian ambassador to the USA and the US ambassador to Russia.

Question: Was the issue of the Russian diplomatic property on US territory raised?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, it was. We will continue seeking justice.

Question: Did the sides fail to agree on anything on this issue?

Sergey Lavrov: If I said we will continue doing this, it means there is still work to do.

Question: You are a diplomat and you notice details. There are no minor details in diplomacy. What do you think about the atmosphere at the meeting? What set the tone? Where can things go from here in your opinion?

Sergey Lavrov: The atmosphere was constructive. As I said in the beginning, the tone was set by the desire of both presidents to promote the national interests of Russia and the United States, respectively. It was determined by the understanding that each country will be able to do this better if we cooperate and seek a balance of interests, and also if we work for stabilisation in different parts of the world, where the situation is very turbulent, be it the Middle East or North Africa, the Korean Peninsula or Afghanistan.

Question: Were there any agreements on Ukraine? US President Donald Trump had proposals on a different plan.

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t remember US President Donald Trump offering some other plan. A lengthy conversation with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson today in the morning did not reveal any departures from the Minsk agreements either. Just as during the conversation with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris yesterday, it was stated that the sides are interested in speeding up the implementation of the Minsk agreements and are determined to work toward this.

Question: What was said on Russia’s “interference” in the US election?

Sergey Lavrov: I have already spoken on this subject.

Question: Now you have essentially announced the agreement on the south of Syria. Two days ago the result in Astana was zero although this issue was discussed. Is the Russia-US-Jordan format you mentioned new? Will you put it through Astana later on? Will you discuss it with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan tomorrow?

Sergey Lavrov: Read the May 4 Memorandum approved in Astana. It deals with four de-escalation zones in Syria: northern (in the area of Idlib); a zone a bit to the north of Homs; a zone covering the greater part of Eastern Ghouta and the south-west of Syria. Obviously, it will be very difficult to agree on anything in the south-west without the Jordanians and the Americans who are working with the Jordanians and representing the interests of the coalition in this region. Three other zones were primarily discussed in Astana a couple of days ago. As we said, there is an understanding on how the zones near Homs and Eastern Ghouta should look. The discussion of the northern zone is still going on.




LATEST EVENTS

15.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the ties between “Bellingcat” and secret services

Question: Russian officials claim that “Bellingcat” is connected to intelligence agencies of the Western countries, but do not present any evidence of such ties. Doesn’t such approach contradict Russia’s position on the Salisbury incident, the MH-17 catastrophe and other notable cases, where the Russian government is continuously demanding to publish proofs of accusations? Answer: There is no contradiction. The fact that “Bellingcat” is affiliated to the intelligence services is obvious considering the whole range of relevant circumstances: date of its foundation (several days prior to the MH-17 catastrophe), nature of published information (which combines signs of intelligence data and highly professional fakes), its orientation (always anti-Russian), timeline of publications (each time at the best moment from the point of view of interests of NATO countries), biography of its leader (Elliot Higgins suddenly turned from a PC gamer into an “icon of independent journalism), non-transparency of its internal structure and financing. If “Bellingcat” can provide any other plausible explanation for such combination of facts, it should be presented to the public.


15.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the British government calls to step up anti-Russian sanctions

Question: How would you comment on the news that the British government has been lobbying a new EU sanctions regime against Russian nationals allegedly involved in use of chemical weapons and cyber-attacks in Europe? Answer: We have taken note of the respective statement by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt of 14 October and the relevant media reports. These suggest that, faced with an imminent Brexit, the British government makes every effort to step up the sanctions pressure on Russia and to complicate as much as possible Russia-EU relations after Brexit.


13.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the investigation of the death of Nikolay Glushkov

Q.: 12 October marks seven months since the death of Nikolay Glushkov. Does the Embassy have any new information on this case? A.: Unfortunately, once again we have to state that the British side continues to evade any sort of cooperation with Russia with regard to the investigation of the death of former Deputy Director General of “Aeroflot” Mr Glushkov that occurred on British soil on 12 March. The British authorities continue to ignore numerous Russian requests, including the official request of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation for legal assistance in the criminal case opened in Russia into the Nikolay Glushkov’s death. There are no answers to the Embassy’s proposals to arrange a meeting or consultations between the Investigative Committee, Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation experts and the Metropolitan Police representatives.


12.10.2018 - Ambassador Yakovenko’s introductory remarks at the press-conference on 12 October 2018

Ladies and gentlemen, In recent weeks we have received a number of media requests concerning the current state of bilateral affairs between Russia and the United Kingdom. I am also often asked how numerous anti-Russian statements by the British officials influence our approach towards the UK. Considering this, I have decided to invite you today to make respective short comments on these issues and answer your additional questions. Currently the relations between Russia and the UK are at a very low level. The reason for that lies in an aggressive anti-Ru ssian campaign launched by the current Tory government and supported by the British media.


09.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the new Bellingcat’s investigation

Question: How would you comment on Bellingcat’s claims that it has “tracked down Alexander Petrov’s real identity”? Answer: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has recently advised us to consider such publications and statements as a display of freedom of public debate into which the UK Government does not interfere. There have already been reports that the Home Office and Metropolitan Police would not comment on these “speculations”. This is exactly the case when we should follow the example of our British colleagues.


08.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the UK authorities’ reaction to Russia’s official requests following recent flagrant media publications

Question: The Embassy declared its intent to request clarifications from the British side following the recent accusations of cyberattacks, and the media reports on preparations for retaliatory cyberstrikes against targets in Russia. Has there been any response? Answer: Today we have received a reply from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which implies that, as before, the British side is not going to provide us with any details that may serve as the basis of the accusations. In this case, we are not in a position to make comments on the essence of those accusations.


05.10.2018 - Embassy comment on another groundless British accusation against Russia

On 4 October, UK Permanent Representative to OPCW Peter Wilson speaking on behalf of Minister for Europe Sir Alan Duncan claimed that the “GRU” allegedly “attempted to compromise UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office computer systems via a spear phishing attack” and “targeted computers of the UK Defence and Science Technology Laboratory”. The same day the UK National Cyber Security Centre stated that “multiple email accounts belonging to a small UK-based TV station were accessed and content stolen” and “the GRU was almost certainly responsible”.Today, the Embassy has forwarded a Note Verbale to the FCO demanding that the UK Government produces and immediately shares with the Russian side hard evidence and proofs supporting those claims, and informs about sources used to draw such conclusions. We have reminded, in particular, that Russia had repeatedly proposed expert consultations on cybersecurity in order to address UK’s concerns, if any.


04.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the BBC journalist Mark Urban’s book on Sergei Skripal

Q.: How would you comment on the Mark Urban’s book on Sergei Skripal published on 4 October? A.: We intend yet to study this book. At the same time, it is a well known fact that Mark Urban has close links with British secret services. This gives us grounds for considering this book as an attempt to compensate for Sergei Skripal’s public non-appearance as the key witness to the Salisbury incident. Instead of facts, the public is again offered speculation and guesses.


04.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question concerning the recent anti-Russian statement by the Foreign Office

Question: How would you comment on today’s statement by the Foreign Office accusing Russia of worldwide cyber-attacks on massive scale? Answer: This statement is reckless. It has become a tradition for such claims to lack any evidence. It is yet another element of the anti-Russian campaign by the UK Government.


03.10.2018 - Embassy Press Officer’s reply to a media question on INF Treaty

Question: How would you comment on the latest statements by US officials on Russia’s alleged non-compliance with INF Treaty? Answer: Russia has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty). The US allegations of Russian non-compliance relate to one particular missile type. While we have assured Washington on multiple occasions that the mentioned missile does not violate INF, the US has never explained the exact reasons of their preoccupation. These allegations divert attention from the American actions that are breaching a number of INF provisions.



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